Degree Requirements

Mentor and Advisory Committee

PhD training consists, in part, of a research apprenticeship under the guidance of one or more graduate faculty in the department. Students are encouraged to identify a potential Mentor prior to applying, but this is not required. You can learn more about our Academic Faculty here and learn more about our Research here.

Upon admission, the student will be assigned a Mentor. The Mentor and at least two other faculty members will complete the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will be responsible for advising and evaluating the student during the pre-dissertation phase of their program.

With permission of the Advisory Committee and the Chair of the department, the student has the option of changing advisors at any time during the program. By the end of the first semester, a statement of program and schedule of relevant coursework must be approved by the Advisory Committee and placed on file in the department. At any time thereafter, the Mentor, in consultation with the student can change the Advisory Committee.

Coursework Credit Hours

The PhD program is designed to provide an individualized experience of study and will be finalized with the student's mentor and advisory committee. While there is substantial customization, the following are required components:

  • A minimum of 72 credit hours of academic oursework is required.
    • 6 credits of CDS 699: Doctoral Theory & Research
      • 3 credits shoudl be taken in Year 1 and Year 2 of the program to align with Project 1 and Project 2
    • At least 3 credits and no more than 12 credits of CDS 700: Research
    • 2 3-credit courses in a statistics sequence (e.g., CEP 519, 520/522; PSY 607; 608)
    •  Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (option 1 or 2)
      1. PHI 640: Graduate Research Ethics or RPN 541: Ethics and Conduct of Research
      2. Completing the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) online Responsible Conduct of Research course with an 80% or higher

*Graduate course credits may be transferred to this department only on approval of the Advisory Committee and the Graduate School. No more than 36 credit hours at the post-baccalaureate level may be applied toward the PhD degree program. (See policy regarding age limit on coursework for CDS).

* Students who enter the program without a background in speech-language pathology and audiology may be required to complete a core of courses within this discipline. The courses to be taken will be determined by the student’s Doctoral Committee.


Maintenance of a B grade average (3.0) is required each semester. Grades lower than a B- will not count towards completion of the PhD If a student fails to obtain a B average for any semester, he or she will be placed on academic probation with no guarantee of university funding for the subsequent semester. If the student fails to achieve a B average during the probationary semester, the student will be dismissed from the program. Decisions regarding student funding during the probationary period will be made by the PhD Committee in consultation with the department chair.


All doctoral students are expected to be engaged in the department's activities and to be involved in research, so are expected to attend full time. A minimum of two academic years of full-time residency is required. Please note that university regulations stipulate that all graduate work credited to the doctoral degree must be completed within seven years of the first registration date in the doctoral program. Students must maintain continuous registration until the degree is conferred. (Summers are not counted, one credit each semester is sufficient).

Pre-Dissertation Research Projects

In addition to coursework, students are expected to be engaged in active research. 

During Years 1 and 2, students will compelted a Project 1 and a Project 2 (pre-dissertation projects). 

  • The completion of each project should include: a proposal document, a proposal meeting with the committee (non-public), a public oral presentation in the CDS Department, and a final written document.
    • Proposal documents should include a literature review, proposed methodology and expected results (suggested length of 3-6 pages). The intent of the proposal document is to provide the committee members sufficient background and scope of project. 
    • During the proposal meeting, the committee members will discuss the proposal with the student and may ask the student to follow up with supporting information for the final written document. The committee as a whole will monitor completion of the pre-dissertation projects.
    • Public presentations of the Projects are required in the CDS Department. Presentations may occur on the department Research Day. The oral presentation will be evaluated by the committee members. 
    • The student will then complete a final written document. Project 1's written document should be approved by the committee prior to the proposal meeting for Project 2, and the final written document for Project 2 should be approved by the committee prior to the pre-proposal meeting for the dissertation. Committee members should be given a minimum of two weeks to read and evaluate completed documents. Exceptions may be made depending on schedule of individual committee members.


The Doctoral Dissertation Committee must be composed of a minimum of 3 Committee members who are members of the Graduate School Faculty Roster. The Committee must include the Dissertation Advisor, who serves as Chair of the Dissertation Committee, and two additional Committee members who must have an earned doctoral degree. In all instances, the majority of Committee members must have Graduate faculty appointment in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences.

Successful completion of the dissertation includes:

  • Pre-proposal meeting: 
    • A non-public meeting of the student and committee for discussion of scope of the study. A proposal document should be provided to the committee members prior to the meeting.
  • Proposal meeting:
    • A final proposal document, which may take one of the two following formats agreed upon by the committee at the pre-proposal meeting.
      1. An NIH-style proposal (F31 Predoctoral Fellowship application) which consists of an abstract, specific aims, significance, innovation, and approach sections. Current NIH guidelines should be followed.
      2. A traditional dissertation proposal document consisting of literature review and proposedmethods and expected results (page limit variable).
    • A public oral presentation of the dissertation, followed by questions and answers by the public.
    • A closed meeting will follow the public oral presentation with the student and the dissertation Committee. At the end of this meeting, the Committee must vote on the acceptability of the dissertation topic and the dissertation document*.


*The Committee will vote pass or fail on the dissertation topic, and pass, pass with revisions or fail on the document. The vote on the dissertation topic need not be unanimous, but rather can be approved with one negative vote. This negative vote cannot, however, be from the advisor. A failure of the dissertation topic must be accompanied by a recommendation of by the Committee. This could include a completely new dissertation, a revision of data analyses, or dismissal from the program. A fail vote on the dissertation document is only given when a Committee member votes to fail on the dissertation topic. A pass on the dissertation topic but a pass with revision on the dissertation document indicates that the writing of the document is not acceptable. Each Committee member who votes pass with revisions on the dissertation document must provide editorial comments to the student. They can either ask to see the revised manuscript, or leave it up to the advisor to determine the acceptability of the revised document. Upon dissertation approval, Committee members must sign the dissertation, indicating their approval.